‘The Wedding Singer’ is business in the front, party nowhere to be found

1985: A year of big hair, stirrup pants and hot pink lipstick. A year when shoulder pads were big and computers were bigger. A year when most current college students were but a dream and a wish in their parents’ pretty minds. “The Wedding Singer,” which opened Tuesday, March 11, and is showing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre through March 23, is set in 1985. The only problem is that there wasn’t anything too great about 1985 the first time around.

The story is simple: Robbie Hart and his band, Simply Wed, play ’80s rock at wedding receptions. Julia Sullivan, who is engaged to a Wall Street mogul, is a waitress in the banquet hall. When Robbie is ditched at the altar by his rocker-girl fiancée Linda, Julia realizes her true feelings for the singer.

The musical, which is based on the 1998 Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore flick of the same name, falters as its lead actors (Merritt David Janes, who plays Robbie, and Erin Elizabeth Coors, who plays Julia) are not nearly as endearing as the movie’s stars. It is difficult to beat a persona like Sandler’s, but the miscast Janes takes awhile to get into character, fading into the background for the majority of the musical.

Coors, on the other hand, is overly bubbly, to the point that her enthusiasm is off-putting. Her singing voice is high and sweet, like a Disney princess-not nearly as captivating as the solos by Andrea Andert (Linda) and Sarah Peak (Julia’s Madonna-loving friend Holly).

The best part of the musical-whose book is by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy (who also wrote the film), with music by Matthew Sklar-is its supporting characters. Robbie’s bandmates Sammy (Justin Jutras) and George (John Jacob Lee) are based on Sammy Hagar and Boy George, in all their ’80s glory. Holly’s spunk and bedazzled wardrobe are more exciting than any time Julia’s brunette bob and white Keds are onstage.

If you choose vanilla over chocolate and carousels over roller coasters, “The Wedding Singer” could be just the bland outing for you. Otherwise, it’s just another trip down memory lane, back to a time before Starbucks ran in our bloodstreams. There was more excitement leading up to New Coke than there is in this musical’s entirety.